Govt departments must take the lead to promote eID

April 11, 2019 11:13
Tsang Kwok-wai, Hong Kong’s Director of Immigration, introduces the Self-service Registration Kiosk and the Self-service Collection Kiosk for the new smart Hong Kong identity card. Photo: HK Govt

Hong Kong government will provide electronic identity (eID) service for local residents from 2020. The initiative will allow Hong Kong residents to use a single digital identity and authentication to conduct government and commercial transactions online. They can apply for public rental housing, change driving licenses, or pay taxes using the digital identification. eID will also be used in different fintech platforms.

The government introduced digital certification several years ago, but it was never popular.

Authorities should now ensure that most government departments will allow residents to use eID for online identity verification. That would encourage more businesses and organizations to use eID in later stage.

Ping An Technology, ICO Group and Shenzhen Emperor Tech were chosen as service providers for the establishment, support, and maintenance of the electronic personal identity (e-ID) system. The three companies won a contract worth HK$86.39 million.

Ping An Technology and Shenzhen Emperor Tech are both mainland Chinese companies. That may stoke fears that Hongkongers' personal data could be transferred to the mainland.

But we should bear in mind that the companies will only serve as technology providers, and Hong Kong residents’ data will be stored in cloud servers here with encryption.

Still, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) needs to ensure adequate measures for information security.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced last month the first batch of three virtual banking licenses. The online banks will be able to use eID as digital identity for fulfilling the Know Your Customer procedure. That would allow customers to open online bank accounts with ease and conduct other transactions.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 10

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation honorary chairman